Meo had told me where to find the place, to look for a fresco of the Virgin in a window by the Via Sant’Alò. He’d shot me a lopsided smile. ‘You’ll see her eyes are closed, amico. The lady no longer watches over us.’
At the sight of that battered little door under the steps, my heart lurched. Too small for an adult to pass through without bending double, it would have been perfect for my Ciccio. I could imagine his excitement – a door his height when all the world was built for grown ups.
I saw his smile, sparkling ebony eyes, felt a small hand slipping into mine. Then the hospital, the smell of cleanser masking body fluids, the hiss of the ventilator.
I wanted to run, find a bar, anywhere, just away …
There was a grind of rusted metal and the door swung open. ‘Lost something?’ said a voice.
Trembling, I stepped inside.